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West Point Inn, Mt. Tamalpais SP

Explore the remnants of a bygone era on the slopes of Mt Tamalpais.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 9 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  There's a way up Mt. Tamalpais for everyone whether you're a biker, hiker, driver or equestrian. Opt for the easy drive-up option and ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Pan Toll Ranger Station

Our nine mile tour around the south slope of Mount Tamalpais (or Mt. Tam as some locals call it) begins at the Pan Toll ranger station, where you can ditch the car (for a fee), grab a map and head for the Old Mine Trail which begins slightly uphill of the parking lot just across the road junction.

Immediately you'll be heading along a narrow... More

2. Junction: Continue on Old Mine Trail

Follow the Old Mine Trail uphill through grassland, taking a right turn at the Y-junction towards the Mountain Theater.

3. Junction: Rock Spring Trail

Trail signs can be difficult to find here, but you needn't worry. Head in an Easterly direction (to the right) and head towards the Mountain Theater. The trail you're looking for is Rock Spring Trail towards West Point Inn.

4. Old Mountain Theater

A surprising place for a four thousand seat ampitheater, the Mt Tamalpais Mountain Theater(aka The Cushing Memorial Theater) has been putting on shows here since 1913. The natural-stone amphitheater seats 3,750 people and features the Mountain Play each spring.

From here continue east and pick up the Rock Spring Trail again, which will take you... More

5. Junction: Continue on Rock Spring Trail

Rock Spring Trail provide great opportunities to admire the southern slopes of Mt Tamalpais, and provides some great views of the distant San Francisco skyline.

The West Point Inn is a remnant of a bygone era, in a time when steam power was a favorite way to travel up the mountain thanks to the long-gone Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway. Here you can top up your water supplies, or take a picnic and toss a few horseshoes before resuming the hike. If you're really lucky you might also find yourself at the Inn... More

7. Junction: Tavern Pump Trail

Your journey up the Old Railroad Grade trail which starts on the left side of the West Point Inn proceeds steadily upwards and snakes around the hillside.

After a while, and particularly in warm weather, you'll be happy to duck off this wide railroad route in search of a little shade and some more greenery. Spot the junction to the right of... More

8. Junction: Fern Creek Trail

On your way up to the summit, hang a left here and proceed up the narrow Fern Creek Trail and up the occasional steps, to the East Peak parking lot.

You'll be using this trail on your way back down to West Point Inn also.

9. Junction: Approaching East Peak parking lot.

Fern Creek Trail will end at the road which takes you to the East Peak parking lot. Here you can choose to follow the cars, or take the smaller trail directly across the road which leads you to the same place.

10. East Peak parking

Many folk prefer the easiest way to reach the top of Mt Tamalpais' 2572 ft peak, which is simply to park up at the East Peak parking lot and head up the short trail to the summit.

Whether you prefer the shorter or longer route, you'll appreciate not only the restrooms here, but also the water fountain and .. wait for it .. the snack shop and... More

11. Gravity Railroad Museum

Just behind the ice-cream stall you'll find the free Gravity Railroad Museum which memorializes the former Mt Tamalpais Scenic Railway from Mill Valley, the route of which you've already walked up part of.

Back in the day the tourist would reach the top of the mountain by locomotive, and then gradually descend again on the free-wheeling Gravity... More

12. Junction: East Peak plank walk

This busy yet short trail begins with a boardwalk section which no doubt uses the old wooden sleepers from the former railroad line.

This route to the East Peak lookout, and the top of the mountain, is a fairly easy route yet with some occasional rocky steps.

13. Mt. Tamalpais East Peak (2,572 ft)

Sure, it's busy up here, but the views are well worth braving the crowds for and there are many unobstructed points from which to admire the plentiful scenery.

14. Junction: Old RR Grade Fire Rd.

On your return back down the Fern Creek Trail again, take a right where the trail terminates. You'll now be on the Old Railroad Grade Fire Road heading towards the West Point Inn. And yes, your legs aren't deceiving you - even though you're on the return part of the journey you'll be mostly heading uphill here.

15. Junction: Matt Davis Trail

Pick up the Matt Davis trail located just downhill of the West Point Inn and you'll be heading back to the trailhead and the end of this hike.

Signs get a ambiguous here, but as long as you're heading towards Bootjack then you won't go wrong.

16. Bootjack (alt trailhead)

Just before reaching Pan Toll ranger station which is where you probably started this hike, you'll happen across Bootjack where you'll find restrooms. This is also a good location to start the hike if all of the parking spaces at Pan Toll are occupied.